Land of the Gun-Toting Monks: Your First Look at Melissa Marr's The Arrivals!

Melissa Marr has caused a huge splash with young-adult fantasy books like Wicked Lovely — and now she's making a big move into adult fiction with her new novel The Arrivals, about a group of people who find themselves in a strange and terrible land — a place where people shoot at you and do deadly magic.

Here's your first look at the cover of The Arrivals, exclusively on io9. Plus below is the first excerpt from the novel.

Here's the blurb for The Arrivals:

Chloe knew she shouldn't have gone into the bar last night. Now, in addition to a pounding headache and weak limbs, she's got the guilt of five years sobriety down the drain.

When she wakes, she's not in the world she knows. She's in The Wasteland, a world populated by monsters and unfamiliar landscapes, in the company of people just like her, pulled to the Wasteland out of time and place, for reasons no one knows or understands. Once there, though, their mission is clear: keep the peace, protect each other, and try not to die, because sometimes, after six days of death, you might not wake up.

But things are changing in the Wasteland. And for Jack and Kitty, brother and sister from a Wild West frontier town; Edgar, a Prohibition rumrunner and Kitty's former lover; Francis, a former hippie and general peacemaker; Melody, a mentally-unbalanced 50s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist, the careful balance they've been keeping for years is about to be upset. All of them, and Chloe, are about to get the answer they've been looking for years: why have they been brought to the Wasteland in the first place? And will it be possible for them to get back home?

And here's an excerpt from the novel, full of gun-toting monks and demonic magic:

Kitty saw the bullets tear into Mary's belly, watched the red stain cover the flowered dress that she'd just stitched up for her closest friend, and her first thought was that there was no way she could repair that kind of damage. The dress was ruined. Close on the heels of that thought was: someone needs to kill the bastard that shot Mary.

They were supposed to be at a meeting, a peaceful, weapons-not-needed negotiation with representatives of a local monastic order. They were supposed to be collecting a payment. They were definitely not supposed to be dealing with trigger-happy monks, but reality had collided with expectations several minutes and a few corpses ago when the monks had pulled guns out from under their grey robes. Worse yet, as Kitty reached for her six-shooter, she heard the atonal mutterings as several of the monks started their prayers.

She slid the gun back into the holster. She'd much rather shoot than deal with the alternatives, but bullets and spells tended to mix poorly. Her partner, Edgar, tossed her a knife. Kitty caught it and kept moving, scanning the area as she walked. There were the two praying monks, two more that her brother, Jack, was dealing with, and the one she'd lost track of in the initial round of gunfire. She couldn't shoot the praying ones, and Jack was handling his. It was the missing monk — the one who'd shot Mary — who had to die now. She needed to flush the monk out or lure him out. She stopped and turned slowly in a circle, watching for her prey and waiting for him to do the obvious.

Edgar's expression was tense as he watched her. He never liked it when she was brash, and if she were honest, she'd be even worse if the roles were reversed. She averted her gaze from him and was about to move toward the shadowed interior of the nearest building when a bullet came from the building and grazed her shoulder.

"Found you," she whispered as the second bullet hit the ground next to her.

The monk stepped out of the building; simultaneously, she charged him. The monk closed his eyes and joined his voice to the other praying monks, summoning their demon's aid. He spoke faster, and Kitty felt the charge in the air around her as she reached him. It figured that he was the one who was accepting possession.

Kitty shoved the blade into the monk's throat and twisted. As she stabbed him, she pushed her will into the monk's body and concentrated on making her words manifest. The monk's blood burned her where it splashed her face and forearm.

He opened his eyes, and Kitty could see the shifting colors that revealed that his demon was already sliding into his bleeding body. He couldn't keep speaking his spell, but she hadn't been fast enough to completely stop it. The last thing she wanted was a demon walking around in a bloody, dead-monk suit.

"Magic it is," she said.

The monk took a step backward, trying to elude her. His lips still moved, although she couldn't hear any words. She wasn't sure if the whisper of the spell was enough, but she wasn't going to take any chances.

"Speak no more." She pulled the knife from his throat and jammed the blade into his left eye, before quickly repeating the action with his right eye. "See no more."

He started to fall to the sandy ground as she withdrew the knife, pulling her will back to her, and letting his life spill out the wounds.

Kitty followed his body to the ground as she jammed the blade into his chest with all the force she could muster. "Live no more."

As she pushed the knife into the monk's chest, Edgar came up behind her. His shadow fell over the corpse, and she was briefly tempted to ask for help. She didn't ask, and he didn't reach down to pull her to her feet — probably because she had snarled the last time he'd tried.

Carefully, Kitty came to her feet, swaying only a little as the backlash from blood magic hit her. "I'm fine," she lied before he could comment.

Edgar didn't touch her, but they both knew he was close enough that she'd be in his arms in a blink if she started to fall. She wasn't a waif of a woman, but Edgar was all muscle, more than capable of hefting her into his arms. That didn't mean that she wanted to be hoisted into the air. It was a point of pride to her that she could stand on her own two feet after working magic.

Slowly, she turned to face him. "You have blood on your trousers."

"True." He stared at her, read her silences and her movements with the sort of familiarity that comes from too many years to count. "You aren't ready to try to walk yet."

Kitty pursed her lips. She was the only one of the Arrivals who could work spells like some of the residents of the Wasteland, but doing so made her feel like her insides were being shredded. Whatever had yanked the Arrivals out of their rightful times and places had changed her when it brought them to this world. She was too much like the native Wastelanders for her liking, but not so much like them that she could work spells without consequences.

After a moment, she leaned against him a little. "I hate spells."

The Arrivals is out in July.